I’m being very auctorial

Teresa Nielsen Hayden, has posted two wonderful essays this month, and I’m late pointing out one, so I’ll use the opportunity of the second to point out both.

The first is Slushkiller about the writing industry and rejection. There is so much I can identify with in it that it’s difficult pull out quotes, but I had a couple of favorites. The first is:

What these guys have failed to understand about rejection is that it isn�t personal. If you�re a writer, you�re more or less constitutionally incapable of understanding that last sentence, if you think there�s any chance that it applies to you and your book; so please just imagine that I�m talking about rejections that happen to all those other writers who aren�t you.

Anyway, as I was saying, it realio trulio honestly isn�t about you the writer per se. If you got rejected, it wasn�t because we think you�re an inadequate human being. We just don�t want to buy your book. To tell you the truth, chances are we didn�t even register your existence as a unique and individual human being. You know your heart and soul are stapled to that manuscript, but what we see are the words on the paper. And that�s as it should be, because when readers buy our books, the words on the paper are what they get.

I’m now at work on my 15th book and I still don’t know how to accept rejection in my weblog, much less my professional writing. The result is I have found a niche where I rarely get rejected, and I’ve become afraid to go outside that niche. I have been accepted in the technical writing genre; I stayed within the technical writing genre. More than that, I stayed with a fairly traditional type of technical writing.

It’s only recently that I’ve started sending work and ideas outside of my comfort zone to entirely new publishers. Consequently, I’ve had several rejections, but I’ve also had one acceptance. The acceptance is for a book that’s technically, well, technical still, but unlike any other of its kind ( and it took two months to sell that puppy to the publisher). It’s a start.

As for the other writing, one of the my more proud moments recently was getting a rejection from a publisher who said my book proposal had actually made it to the marketing meeting before they rejected the idea for being too far outside their normal genre.

I was tickled pink.

I like to think of rejections as professional, and acceptances as personal. But then I’m working on my 15th book and I can afford to be magnanimous to the editors who reject my work. Every last worm of them.

The second quote I particularly liked with Teresa’s Slushkiller post is:

The writer has mistaken didactic, wordy, and lengthy for condemnations, when in fact they�re descriptions. The editor�s telling her how the manuscript needs to change if it�s going to have a chance of selling in the picture-book market. It�s good, simple, useful advice: keep the story, pare down the didacticism, and lose a whole lot of words along the way. On the other hand, if all you want are affirmations, go to an AA meeting.

Number one rule to successful writing, and one I’m still learning: less is more.

That takes care of the overdue commentary. On to the new:

Today Teresa wrote that a third edition of her book, Making Book, was being released. Unfortunately, the press accidentally shot the third edition from the wrong copy, using one that had several typos and errors. She wrote:

I was at work when I first got wind of this. I don�t know what I looked like for a while there, but people kept stopping in my doorway to ask if I were all right. �I�m being very auctorial,� I told them; meaning, approximately, I am in shock, and I observe that at the moment I have zero sense of perspective about this, and This hurts like hell. In short: I�m taking this like an author. I couldn�t think of any other way to say it. Fortunately, they understood what I meant.

Oh, yes. I understand. Yes, indeedy. Bang on, scratched the itch that is. I just didn’t know there was a word for it. Now I know what I can use whenever someone asks me what’s wrong when I spot an oops or gotcha or get a bad review of any of my books:

I am being very auctorial.

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